Serving all faiths under one roof

By Jade Belzberg

Care of Creation was the focus of the 20th Annual USD All-Faith Service. The event, held on Jan. 31 at Shiley Theatre, attracted students, faculty, staff and local leaders of faith communities. The theme of this year’s service highlighted the importance of caring for our earth, especially at a local level.

The service began at 12:15 p.m. with a procession of flags carried by USD students, followed by a piano and drum processional. Songs such as “Touch the Earth Lightly” echoed the theme of respect for the earth. A PowerPoint presentation by USD students focused on the various ways the campus has implemented more earth-friendly initiatives, such as the “Be Blue, Go Green” campaign.

Local faith leaders presented a variety of religious and cultural prayers throughout the service, including a Muslim Call to Prayer, the American Indian “Iapay Songs About the Rising of the Creator” and the Indian classical dance, Odissi.

Rev. Yushi Mukojima from the Buddhist Temple of San Diego used a panda puppet named Putra to speak about the interconnectedness of life. As he spoke, children from the Manchester Family Child Development Center gathered on stage to watch Putra respond.

The Christian Reflection by Rev. Peter Rood of Holy Nativity Episcopal Church in Los Angeles began with a quote from Obama’s inauguration.

“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity,” Rood quoted. “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”

Throughout the reflection, Rood encouraged environmental and social justice awareness through local initiatives, such as creating community gardens and zen spaces. The food grown at the Holy Nativity garden supplies the local food pantry with hundreds of pounds of vegetables each year.

The concluding meditation was led by Evelyn Diaz Cruz, an associate professor in the department of theatre arts and performance studies. It featured a reading from The Earth Charter, which attempts to build a sustainable society going into the 21st century, according to the Earth Charter Initiative organization’s website.

While the service celebrated the steps that USD has taken to being a more environmentally-friendly campus, the closing address suggested the need to do more.

According to Monsignor Daniel Dillabough, Vice President of University Mission and Ministry Monsignor Dillabough, the All-Faith Service “invites us to hold a reverence for our earth and care for every creation.” The address reminded the USD community of the ties between religion and sustainability. How did it do that? be more specific?

For the student attendees, the event was a helpful reminder of the need for environmental sustainability.

“I’m so happy that our school has taken a stand to support the environment,” said senior Desiree Palmer. “It ties in well to their commitment to Catholic Social Thought. I’m glad to see compassion offered not only to our fellow humans, but to the earth as well.”

Accompanied by a drum and piano processional, the Founders Chapel Choir concluded the service with a song. Audience participation during the songs appeared to represent the community’s support for environmental action at both a local and global level. The efforts of the Office of Sustainability were highlighted through the pamphlets handed out to attendees of the All-Faith service. Some included the new bike racks at residence halls on campus, as well as new electric cars around the university.

“Could [on-campus sustainability] be improved?” Palmer asked. “Totally. We’re pumping out tons of water on this lovely green grass – there’s space for improvement.”

She turned towards the stage where American Indian, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Jewish and Hindu presenters had demonstrated their support for a more sustainable future.
“But is it a step in the right direction? I would say so.”